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A Note from Russ Buchanan to his Old Chum Max Baucus

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Dear Max,

I know it's been a while since we last spoke, but that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about you. In fact, I've been thinking about you a lot lately.

Max, I'm gonna get straight to the point. Lately, there's been a lot of ugly talk connecting your attempt to torpedo the public option with the millions of dollars you've gotten from health insurance honchos.

People see conspiracy in everything these days; have they never heard of coincidence?

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But, you've got to admit; to those who don't know the honorable Max Baucus, as I do, your position does emit a certain aroma. Frankly, it makes you look a lot like one of those corporate poodles we used to point and laugh at in the congressional cafeteria. Now, I know you called a "moratorium" on any further health sector donations to the Max Baucus campaign, and that was good -- but a wee bit late, I'm afraid. People recognize four million over five years can buy a load of influence, and your recent attitude toward the public option and health care reform in general is scorching many a nostril.

As you know, Montanans are among the least health insurance-covered folks in the country. Hell, out of sheer desperation, Republicans in your state are calling for the public option. So I'm sure you're aware that your high profile and adamantine objection could make life very difficult for you during your next campaign, no matter how much TV time your health industry money buys.

The national scene is even worse. Your party's leadership and an overwhelming majority of Democratic voters are frothing for this option. You and the Blue Doggerels sit alone like lepers at a fashion show -- unless you count the remedial class on the other side of the aisle as comrades -- but I would strongly advise against that. And now with Obama's pledge to keep his plan deficit neutral, the rug has been pulled out from your only ostensible reason for objecting to the public option in the first place.

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In fact, I was hoping you might have used Obama's speech as an aha moment -- an opportunity to publicly change your mind. Instead, a few days later you released your committee's counter proposal, which if enacted would not only put the public option out to pasture and squeeze the middle class like an empty toothpaste tube, but would also do for private health insurers what HIV did for the latex industry.

Hell, I'm even starting to think something's up, Max- ha ha.

All quid pro quo aside, guy, you and I both know a government-run health insurance option is the only way to get your masters at Aetna and United to stop the wholesale ripping-off and selective killing and maiming of our countrymen. The Max I know, cares about stuff like this. And though you benefit mightily from their dollars, your innate decency must be wreaking havoc on your sleep and that ulcer of yours.

But, don't despair, my friend; I've got a plan.

Remember back in 2002 when you sold your votes to the financial sector, making filing personal bankruptcy for Americans more difficult than taking gold at the Olympics? Or when you helped to demolish what was left of those pesky regulations on Wall Street?

How much were you paid for your largesse? Four million over ten years. Ten years, Max! You gave them the green light to own people for life, and greased the way for the investment boys to reap a windfall while destroying our economy in the bargain. And all you got was a crummy four hundred grand a year!

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You were severely chumped, my friend, and you know it.

And, how about the NRA? You vote to give Americans their constitutionally guaranteed right to shoot armor-piercing rounds at deer and Kevlar-wearing javelinas, and what do you get in return? A lousy fifteen grand. This is madness, kiddo. These guys are worth zillions!

As the chairman of the finance committee, there are plenty of industries champing at the bit to have "a stronger relationship" with you. Energy, telecommunications, defense, transportation, your old pals in finance -- the list is endless. Sure, some of your votes on your new clients' behalf may stir up a little controversy from time to time, but nothing like this public option landmine your health "friends" have placed neatly in your path.

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Russ Buchanan is a writer, voice actor / narrator and ornery creator of audio / video agitprop.

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